By Andy Hirst

People only have until next Monday (November 21) to donate Christmas gifts to children living in dire poverty in eastern Europe.

Since 2006 the Meltham Shoebox Campaign based at St James’ Church in Meltham Mills has filled shoeboxes with goodies and sent them to children living incredibly deprived lives in eastern Europe.

This year the team of 100 kind-hearted volunteers wants to send around 4,000 shoeboxes to youngsters aged three to 14 in Ukraine, Romania, Bosnia, Georgia and Moldova.

Schools have been getting involved including Skelmanthorpe Academy, which has donated 58 boxes, and Holmfirth High.

The project has processed well over 1,500 shoeboxes so far this year and has today put out a final rallying call for people to get their shoeboxes into the church.

Each box is different and the kind of things that can go in them include toys, toothbrush and toothpaste, a hairbrush, comb, hair accessories, soap and facecloth, notebook, pencils, rubbers, crayons, gloves, hat and scarf, new socks and underwear, a small game, puzzle, sweets and a small Christmas decoration.

Meltham Shoebox Campaign media officer Rena Souten said: “People can either fill shoeboxes all wrapped up for us or donate individual items or cash. If your shoebox isn’t full then don’t worry as we can add things to it from our stocks.

“Our aim is to make a difference in the lives of children around the world who find themselves in desperate and hopeless situations.”

Donations should be taken to St James’ Church on Huddersfield Road, Meltham Mills. It is open Monday to Friday from 10am until 2pm until Monday, November 21. If you are struggling to get your box to St James’s please phone Judith Powell, the West Yorkshire Regional Co-ordinator and Team Leader at the Meltham Shoebox campaign on 07954 784317 and she’ll be able to help.

Simply put the items in the box, wrap the bottom of the box and the top separately in Christmas paper and then pop an elastic band around it but don’t stick it down as every box needs to be opened and checked at the church. It’s then sealed before its journey to eastern Europe.

Add a piece of paper in the top of the box saying if the gifts are for a boy or a girl and the age range which can be 3-5, 5-9 or 9-14. People can pop a photo of themselves in too with their names so the children can see who has sent it.

The Meltham campaign now comes under a larger charity called T4U (Teams For You) set up in Wrexham, North Wales, by founder Dave Cooke. Since 2013 it has sent around 250,000 boxes.

* Copyright for this story belongs to freelance journalist ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire agency AH! PR ( specialising in stories for the media, press releases, blogging, copywriting, scriptwriting and applying for awards.